Castles in the air - they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build, too.

आम्हां घरी धन शब्दांचीच रत्नें | शब्दांचीच शस्त्रें यत्न करुं ||
शब्द चि आमुच्या जीवांचे जीवन | शब्दें वांटूं धन जनलोकां ||
तुका म्हणे पाहा शब्द चि हा देव | शब्द चि गौरव पूजा करुं ||
- abhang of Tukaram Wolhoba Ambile of Dehu

There's No Freedom Like That of a Child's Imagination

கடலுக்கு உண்டு கற்பனைக்கு இல்லை கட்டுப்பாடு

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Undreaming of Kaju Katli

There are things that are impossible, and yet you dream of them. Like magic and flying and knights on black stallions. And then there are things that are so impossible, that you do not dream of them. In fact, you don't even imagine them in the first place.
 
Many Indians (rich and middle class) have eaten Kaju Katli. This is the king among Indian sweets (mithai), with its rich veins of ground cashew and ghee. But nobody, absolutely nobody, would dream of having a dinner of Kaju Katli alone. And yet I just had one. And I so had to express myself, that I have returned to my dormant blog.
 
There is a HUGE box of Kaju Katli that my labmate brought back from a wedding in Pune. I have never seen so many lozenges of Kaju Katli together in my life. Not even in a halwai's display. And to make things easier:-
 
1. My labmate hadn't spent a penny on buying them.
2. There were no restrictions on who could eat how many, for there were no reservations on them (no snide references intended*).
3. Most labmates were away.
4. The provider is calorie-conscious and doesn't want it for herself.
 
The few of us who dine on them, temporarily live in mithai heaven. The box isn't empty even as I write, so I'm still not back on mother Earth.
 
I cannot say whether it is good or bad. Kaju Katli is just Kaju Katli. I am not a king with daily access to the stuff (though I doubt even such a person would not have dined on it alone). I cannot say which is well-made and which is not. To my middle-class, hostel-reared tongue, even the worst made lozenge is still something to die for.
 
Why is it to die for? What does it contain? Fat and sugar. As does any Indian sweet. Yet, there is something too balanced, too nuanced about the Kaju Katli that makes it the king. Neither too 'ghee'y nor too icky, with the delicate flavour of cashew (the king of nuts) thrown in generous proportion. Why else does it retail at Rs. 320.00 a kilogramme? Still, it is so much fat and sugar.
 
Fat and sugar. I know the repetition irritates (and to the calorie-minded, even repels). But there are no greater pyschedelic substances known, none that can cause such an intense craving in men and women. You have your high over grass or pot or whatever (and my friend max knows those who intoxicate themselves on snake venom). Ah, but once you've had your kick, the craving stops for sometime. Ever heard of a craving for fat or sugar stop, even temporarily? Not for nothing does Lays say "No one can eat just one".
 
Yes there is willpower. You can kick the sweet-and-fatty habit by wishing so. By excercise. By abstinence. You can't do that for cocaine without therapy. But nobody lives a sugar-free oil-free life. One finds substitutes. One finds aspartame and low-cholesterol cooking oil.
 
Of course the evolutionary psychologists say it harks back to the Stone Age. When every little bit that was edible meant the difference between life and death. When a craving for sugar was a good thing, the sort of thing that made you the fittest. When abstinence was suicidal, even worse - genicide**. Not now, anymore. Now of course it's a sin. A seven deadly sins sin. Gluttony. Temptation.
 
But now the Kaju Katli is fast dwindling. The craving is there; the stomach may or may not be sated (who cares) while the tongue is not. The willpower to resist it, along with any Biblical (or any other religious canonical) injunctions have just taken a high jump out of the window. And there are others to compete, so this essay has to end now. I have an undream*** to live out.
 
***
 
* I guess the disclaimer might be the one making the snide reference, rather than the supposed snide reference itself, by highlighting the fact that there is a snide reference to be thought of in the first place!
**genicide - the mass murder of one's own genes. By abstaining and thus starving to death, you're killing your genes. And that is an evolutionary crime.
***undream - a dream you didn't dream, but wouldn't have minded dreaming.

1 Comments:

Blogger Quicksilver! said...

I recently not only dined, but also ‘lunched’ on Mango Barfi from Chitale Bandhu.
It was great reading this because I can so empathize! :)

3:33 PM, March 05, 2007  

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